Alleviating Those Delivery Day Fears
I’ve been working with pregnant women for over 10 years. In my Prenatal Pilates class we start each class with a theme or educational topic. During our last class, once we’ve had a chance to get to know one another and let our guard down, the women take turns going around the room and sharing the fears they have approaching their delivery. I’ve heard literally hundreds of women bear their souls about what has them shaking in their maternity stockings. Here are the most popular answers:
Fear of pain
Of course this is the most common fear, thanks to the media and droves of women who have come before us and love to share their stories of drama and terror. My best advice is to surround yourself by positive birth stories. My next best advice is to stock your labor bag and mind with an arsenal of tips and tricks to help you cope. If it’s any consolation, even after three un-medicated labors, I would still choose to give birth over having a root canal. Here’s a handy dandy document of some ideas to help you manage the discomfort of labor.
Fear of the unknown
Even the most prepared pregnant woman needs to come to terms with the fact that labor, in and of itself, requires accepting a loss of control. You know what they say about the best laid plans. However, as a Type A control-freak myself, I feel like a little planning goes a long way. Only after I had armored myself with education and exercise did I feel comfortable throwing my hands up and letting the day unfold as the universe intended.
Fear of how their birth partner will weather the storm
Some women are cool as a cucumber heading into the big day but are petrified that their over-anxious partner will pass out or flip out or sequester the attention of the nursing staff leaving the laboring mom to manage her own birth for a stretch of time. My answer to birth partner woes? Hire a good doula, yesterday. While your birth partner may squawk at the idea of spending money on a labor coach, I promise they (and YOU!) will be singing the praises of your doula!
Fear of having the baby at home (unplanned), in the car, on the side of the road, in the elevator at work
While these stories are sure to grace the cover of magazines, make the highlight of the evening news, or show up in your news feed, they are rare and unlikely (especially as a first time mom). Most of the time, labor is quite obvious and your body does a great job of alerting you and those around you that the time is drawing near. It helps to have a plan (and a Plan B) of how you’ll get to the hospital depending on the time of day, rush hour, weather, etc.
Fear of death (themselves or baby)
Some women have had a history of miscarriage or have a medical complication making them anxious. Others have waited years to get pregnant and the impending delivery day causes worst case scenario images to grace their imaginations. And some have absolutely no realistic reason to fear death and that doesn’t mean they are off the hook with this fear either. Again the chances of this actually happening are so very rare but that often doesn’t console any ladies dealing with this fear. The visualization below might, though.
Fear of the actual mothering part
Some women are more worried about the after part. How will they take care of this tiny newborn, what will life look like, will they be able to return to work (will they want to), how will their relationship with their spouse change? If they have other children, how will they be able to show each child enough love. As far as the act of mothering, for most women a natural instinct drives their decision. For others, you’ll learn to fake it til you make it. And in regards to spreading your love among multiple children, a mother’s love is like the sun. No matter how many people are laying on the beach, they all manage to feel the warmth equally.
The important thing to remember is that all of these fears (and more) are normal and they are human. If they remain in your subconscious they can be a powerful inhibitor to a positive birth (and life) experience. Pushing them aside and hiding them in the dark recesses of your mind and heart will only allow them to grow more powerful and controlling. But, if you give your fears a voice by acknowledging them, they lose their power and can be released from your mind prior to giving birth.
Try this visualization. Imagine yourself sitting at the edge of a gently rolling stream. Picture leaves falling from the trees around you. Write each of your fears and anxieties onto the leaves around you. Really spend a good 5 minutes mentally “dumping” whatever is floating around in the recesses of your gray matter onto the leaves. Then picture yourself setting the leaves, one by one, on the surface of the water. Watch the current carry them slowly down the stream until they disappear completely from your sight, completely from your mind. Now use that free space in your mind to create “I am” statements. I am__________ and then fill in the blank with something positive about yourself. I am strong. I am able to do difficult things. I am full of trust in my body and my baby to work together. I am confident I will be a good mother.
Your fears are powerful. But your positive affirmations are like kryptonite for your fears. Recite them often, superwomen, and go confidently into your delivery day!